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Publication numberUS7155270 B2
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 10/692,714
Publication date26 Dec 2006
Filing date24 Oct 2003
Priority date24 Oct 2003
Fee statusPaid
Also published asDE602004020166D1, EP1525854A1, EP1525854B1, US20050090729
Publication number10692714, 692714, US 7155270 B2, US 7155270B2, US-B2-7155270, US7155270 B2, US7155270B2
InventorsMario A. Solis, Richard Bautista, Robert F. Ocariz, James K. Lee, Martin O'Sullivan
Original AssigneeBiosense Webster, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Catheter with multi-spine mapping assembly
US 7155270 B2
Abstract
A catheter that is particularly useful for simultaneously mapping multiple points within the heart is provided. The catheter includes a mapping assembly including a plurality of flexible spines, each having a free distal end. The spines are supported by an improved support structure that permits the spines to be more precisely arranged relative to one another. The catheter comprises an elongated catheter body. A mapping assembly is provided at the distal end of the catheter body. The mapping assembly comprises a support structure having a generally cylindrical base mounted on the distal end of the catheter body, the base having proximal and distal ends. The support structure further comprises at least two pre-shaped flexible support arms. Each support arm has a proximal end attached to the distal end of the generally cylindrical base and a free distal end. At least two non-conductive coverings are provided, each in surrounding relation to a corresponding one of the at least two support arms. At least one electrode is mounted over each of the at least two non-conductive coverings.
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Claims(24)
1. A catheter comprising:
an elongated catheter body having a proximal end, a distal end, and at least one lumen extending longitudinally therethrough;
a needle electrode at the distal end of the catheter body; and
a mapping assembly at the distal end of the catheter body and comprising:
a support structure having a generally cylindrical base mounted on the distal end of the catheter body, the base having proximal and distal ends, and at least two pre-shaped flexible support arms, each support arm having a proximal end attached to the distal end of the generally cylindrical base and a free distal end,
at least two non-conductive coverings, each non-conductive covering provided in surrounding relation to a corresponding one of the at least two support arms; and
at least one electrode mounted over each of the at least two non-conductive coverings.
2. The catheter of claim 1, further comprising a non-conductive covering over the base of the support structure.
3. The catheter of claim 1, wherein the base and the at least two support arms of the support structure are a unitary structure.
4. The catheter of claim 1, wherein each support arm is tapered from its proximal end to its distal end.
5. The catheter of claim 1, wherein each support arm has a disc-shaped region at its distal end.
6. The catheter of claim 1, wherein the support structure comprises at least five support arms.
7. The catheter of claim 1, wherein at least two electrodes are mounted over each non-conductive covering.
8. The catheter of claim 1, wherein at least four electrodes are mounted over each non-conductive covering.
9. The catheter of claim 1, further comprising a marker band mounted on one of the non-conductive coverings.
10. The catheter of claim 1, wherein the support structure comprises Nitinol.
11. The catheter of claim 1, wherein the base is a right circular cylinder.
12. The catheter of claim 1, wherein the at least two support arms are evenly spaced about the perimeter of the base.
13. The catheter of claim 1, further comprising at least one location sensor mounted in the distal end of the catheter body.
14. The catheter of claim 1, wherein the needle electrode is extendable and retractable.
15. A catheter comprising:
an elongated catheter body having a proximal end, a distal end, and at least one lumen extending longitudinally therethrough;
a needle electrode at the distal end of the catheter body; and
a mapping assembly at the distal end of the catheter body and comprising:
a unitary support structure having a base in the shape of a right circular cylinder mounted on the distal end of the catheter body, the base having proximal and distal ends, and at least five pre-shaped flexible support arms, each support arm having a proximal end attached to the distal end of the generally cylindrical base and a free distal end, wherein the support arms are evenly spaced about the perimeter of the base;
at least five non-conductive coverings, each non-conductive covering provided in surrounding relation to a corresponding one of the at least five support arms;
at least two electrodes mounted over each of the at least five non-conductive coverings; and
a non-conductive covering over the base of the support structure.
16. The catheter of claim 15, wherein each support arm is tapered from its proximal end to its distal end.
17. The catheter of claim 15, wherein each support arm has a disc-shaped region at its distal end.
18. The catheter of claim 15, wherein at least four electrodes are mounted over each non-conductive covering.
19. The catheter of claim 15, further comprising a marker band mounted on one of the non-conductive coverings.
20. The catheter of claim 15, wherein the support structure comprises Nitinol.
21. The catheter of claim 15, further comprising at least one location sensor mounted in the distal end of the catheter body.
22. The catheter of claim 15, wherein the needle electrode is extendable and retractable.
23. A catheter comprising:
an elongated catheter body having a proximal end, a distal end, and at least one lumen extending longitudinally therethrough;
a mapping assembly at the distal end of the catheter body and comprising:
a support structure having a generally cylindrical base mounted on the distal end of the catheter body, the base having proximal and distal ends, and at least two pre-shaped flexible support arms, each support arm having a proximal end attached to the distal end of the generally cylindrical base and a free distal end, wherein each support arm has a disc-shaped region at its distal end,
at least two non-conductive coverings, each non-conductive covering provided in surrounding-relation to a corresponding one of the at least two support arms; and
at least one electrode mounted over each of the at least two non-conductive coverings.
24. A catheter comprising:
an elongated catheter body having a proximal end, a distal end, and at least one lumen extending longitudinally therethrough;
a mapping assembly at the distal end of the catheter body and comprising:
a unitary support structure having a base in the shape of a right circular cylinder mounted on the distal end of the catheter body, the base having proximal and distal ends, and at least five pre-shaped flexible support arms, each support arm having a proximal end attached to the distal end of the generally cylindrical base and a free distal end, wherein the support arms are evenly spaced about the perimeter of the base and each support arm has a disc-shaped region at its distal end;
at least five non-conductive coverings, each non-conductive covering provided in surrounding relation to a corresponding one of the at least five support arms;
at least two electrodes mounted over each of the at least five non-conductive coverings; and
a non-conductive covering over the base of the support structure.
Description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to a catheter having a mapping assembly with a plurality of spines including an improved support structure.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Electrophysiology catheters are commonly used for mapping electrical activity in a heart. Electrophysiology is a specialty within the field of cardiology for diagnosis and treatment of electrical abnormalities of the heart. By mapping the electrical activity in the heart, ectopic sites of electrical activation or other electrical activation pathways that contribute to heart malfunctions may be detected. This type of information may then allow a cardiologist to intervene and destroy the malfunctioning heart tissues. Such destruction of heart tissue is referred to as ablation, which is a rapidly growing field within electrophysiology and obviates the need for maximally invasive open heart surgery.

Attached to the electrophysiology catheters are electrodes, which are used to map, or collect electrical information about, the electrical activity in the heart. Such catheters are generally inserted percutaneously and fed through one or more major blood vessels into a chamber of the heart. It is desirable to include a mapping assembly on the catheter comprising a plurality of electrodes that can be used to simultaneously map electrical activity at different positions within the heart.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a catheter that is particularly useful for simultaneously mapping multiple points within the heart. The catheter includes a mapping assembly including a plurality of flexible spines, each having a free distal end. The spines are supported by an improved support structure that permits the spines to be more precisely arranged relative to one another.

In one embodiment, the invention is directed to a catheter comprising an elongated catheter body having a proximal end, a distal end, and at least one lumen extending longitudinally therethrough. A mapping assembly is provided at the distal end of the catheter body. The mapping assembly comprises a support structure having a generally cylindrical base mounted on the distal end of the catheter body, the base having proximal and distal ends. The support structure further comprises at least two pre-shaped flexible support arms. Each support arm has a proximal end attached to the distal end of the generally cylindrical base and a free distal end. At least two non-conductive coverings are provided, each in surrounding relation to a corresponding one of the at least two support arms. At least one electrode is mounted over each of the at least two non-conductive coverings.

In another embodiment, the invention is directed to a catheter comprising an elongated catheter body having a proximal end, a distal end, and at least one lumen extending longitudinally therethrough. A mapping assembly is provided at the distal end of the catheter body. The mapping assembly comprises a unitary support structure having a base in the shape of a right circular cylinder mounted on the distal end of the catheter body, the base having proximal and distal ends. The support structure further comprises at least five pre-shaped flexible support arms, each support arm having a proximal end attached to the distal end of the generally cylindrical base and a free distal end. The support arms are evenly spaced about the perimeter of the base. At least five non-conductive coverings are provided, each in surrounding relation to a corresponding one of the at least five support arms. At least two electrodes are mounted over each of the at least five non-conductive coverings. A non-conductive covering is provided over the base of the support structure.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other features and advantages of the present invention will be better understood by reference to the following detailed description when considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings wherein:

FIG. 1 is a side plan view of an embodiment of a catheter of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a side cross-sectional view of the needle control handle where the needle electrode assembly is in a retracted position.

FIG. 2A is an exploded view of Area A of FIG. 2.

FIG. 2B is an exploded view of Area B of FIG. 2.

FIG. 2C is an exploded view of Area C of FIG. 2.

FIG. 3 is a schematic side cross-sectional view of the distal end of the distal shaft, including the proximal end of the mapping assembly.

FIG. 4 is a side cross-sectional view of the thermocouple mounted in the needle electrode assembly.

FIG. 5 is a side cross-sectional view of the catheter body, including the junction between the proximal shaft and the distal shaft.

FIG. 6 is an end cross-sectional view of the distal shaft of the catheter body shown in FIG. 5 along line 66.

FIG. 7 is an end cross-sectional view of the proximal shaft of the catheter body shown in FIG. 5 along line 77.

FIG. 8 is a side view of a mapping assembly according to the invention.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a support structure according to the present invention.

FIG. 10 is a side cross sectional view of a portion of the catheter tip section showing one means for attaching the puller wire.

FIG. 11 is a top cross sectional views of a preferred puller wire anchor.

FIG. 12 is a side cross sectional views of the puller wire anchor of FIG. 11.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

As shown in FIG. 1, the catheter 10 comprises an elongated catheter body 12 having a proximal shaft 13 and a distal shaft 14, a mapping assembly 15 mounted at the distal end of the distal shaft, a deflection control handle 16 attached to the proximal end of the proximal shaft, and a needle control handle 17 attached indirectly to the catheter body proximal to the deflection control handle.

With reference to FIGS. 5 and 7, the proximal shaft 13 comprises a single, central or axial lumen 18. The proximal shaft 13 is flexible, i.e., bendable, but substantially non-compressible along its length. The proximal shaft 13 may be of any suitable construction and made of any suitable material. A presently preferred construction comprises an outer wall 22 made of polyurethane or nylon. The outer wall 22 comprises an imbedded braided mesh of stainless steel or the like to increase torsional stiffness of the proximal shaft 13 so that, when the deflection control handle 16 is rotated, the distal shaft 14 of the catheter 10 will rotate in a corresponding manner.

The outer diameter of the proximal shaft 13 is not critical, but is preferably no more than about 8 French. Likewise the thickness of the outer wall 22 is not critical. In the depicted embodiment, the inner surface of the outer wall 22 is lined with a stiffening tube 20, which can be made of any suitable material, preferably polyimide. The stiffening tube 20, along with the braided outer wall 22, provides improved torsional stability while at the same time minimizing the wall thickness of the catheter, thus maximizing the diameter of the single lumen. The outer diameter of the stiffening tube 20 is about the same as or slightly smaller than the inner diameter of the outer wall 22.

As shown in FIGS. 5 and 6, the distal shaft 14 comprises a short section of tubing 19 having three lumens, namely an infusion lumen 30, a puller wire lumen 32 and a lead wire lumen 34. The tubing 19 is made of a suitable non-toxic material that is preferably more flexible than the proximal shaft 13. A presently preferred material for the tubing 19 is braided polyurethane, i.e., polyurethane with an embedded mesh of braided stainless steel or the like. The outer diameter of the distal shaft 14, like that of the proximal shaft 13, is preferably no greater than about 8 French.

A preferred means for attaching the proximal shaft 13 to the distal shaft 14 is illustrated in FIG. 5. The proximal end of the distal shaft 14 comprises an inner counter bore 24 that receives the outer surface of the stiffener 20. The distal shaft 14 and proximal shaft 13 are attached by glue or the like. Other methods for attaching the proximal shaft 13 to the distal shaft 14 can be used in accordance with the invention.

The stiffening tube 20 is held in place relative to the outer wall 22 at the proximal shaft 13. In a preferred construction of the proximal shaft 13, a force is applied to the proximal end of the stiffening tube 20, which causes the distal end of the stiffening tube 20 to firmly push against the counter bore 24. While under compression, a first glue joint is made between the stiffening tube 20 and the outer wall 22 by a fast drying glue, e.g. Super Glue®. Thereafter a second glue joint is formed between the proximal ends of the stiffening tube 20 and outer wall 22 using a slower drying but stronger glue, e.g., polyurethane.

The depicted catheter includes a mechanism for deflecting the distal shaft 14 of the catheter body 12. In the depicted embodiment, a puller wire 42 extends into the puller wire lumen 32 of the distal shaft 14. The puller wire 42 is anchored at its proximal end to the deflection control handle 16 and anchored at its distal end to the distal shaft 14. The puller wire 42 is made of any suitable metal, such as stainless steel or Nitinol, and is preferably coated with Teflon® or the like. The coating imparts lubricity to the puller wire 42. The puller wire 42 preferably has a diameter ranging from about 0.006 to about 0.010 inches.

Referring to FIG. 5, the compression coil 44 extends from the proximal end of the proximal shaft 13 to the proximal end of the distal shaft 14. The compression coil 44 is made of any suitable metal, preferably stainless steel. The compression coil 44 is tightly wound on itself to provide flexibility, i.e., bending, but to resist compression. The inner diameter of the compression coil 44 is preferably slightly larger than the diameter of the puller wire 42. For example, when the puller wire 42 has a diameter of about 0.007 inches, the compression coil 44 preferably has an inner diameter of about 0.008 inches. The Teflon® coating on the puller wire 42 allows it to slide freely within the compression coil 44. Along its length, the outer surface of the compression coil 44 is covered by a flexible, non-conductive sheath 26 to prevent contact between the compression coil 44 and any of the lead wires 129 or needle electrode assembly 46. A non-conductive sheath 26 made of polyimide tubing is presently preferred. As shown in FIG. 5, the compression coil 44 is anchored at its proximal end to the proximal end of the stiffening tube 20 in the proximal shaft 13 by glue to form a glue joint 50 and at its distal end to the distal shaft 14 in the puller wire lumen 32.

The puller wire 42 extends into the puller wire lumen 32 of the distal shaft 14. Preferably the puller wire 42 is anchored at its distal end to the side of the distal shaft 14, as shown in FIGS. 10 to 12. In this embodiment, a T-shaped anchor 93 is formed which comprises a short piece of tubular stainless steel 94, e.g., hypodermic stock, which is fitted over the distal end of the puller wire 42 and crimped to fixedly secure it to the puller wire. The distal end of the tubular stainless steel 94 is fixedly attached, e.g., by welding, to a stainless steel cross-piece 96, such as stainless steel ribbon or the like. The cross-piece 96 sits in a notch 98 in a wall of the distal shaft 14 that extends into the second lumen 32. The stainless steel cross-piece 96 is larger than the notch 98 and, therefore, cannot be pulled through the notch. The portion of the notch 98 not filled by the cross-piece 96 is filled with glue or the like, preferably a polyurethane glue, which is harder than the material of the distal shaft 14. Rough edges, if any, of the cross-piece 96 are polished to provide a smooth, continuous surface with the outer surface of the distal shaft 14.

With further reference to FIG. 5, within the distal shaft 14, and distal to the glue joint 50, the turns of the compression coil are expanded longitudinally. Such expanded turns 49 are both bendable and compressible and preferably extend for a length of about 0.5 inch. The puller wire 42 extends through the expanded turns 49 then into a plastic, preferably Teflon®, sheath 81, which prevents the puller wire from cutting into the wall of the distal shaft 14 when the distal shaft is deflected.

Any other suitable technique for anchoring the puller wire 42 in the distal shaft 14 can also be used. Alternatively, other means for deflecting the distal region can be provided, such as the deflection mechanism described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,537,686, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.

Longitudinal movement of the puller wire 42 relative to the catheter body 12, which results in deflection of the distal shaft 14, is accomplished by suitable manipulation of the control handle 16. Examples of suitable control handles for use in the present invention are disclosed, for example, in U.S. Pat. Nos. Re 34,502, 5,897,529 and 6,575,931, the entire disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference.

If desired, the catheter can include two or more puller wires (not shown) to enhance the ability to manipulate the distal shaft 14. In such an embodiment, a second puller wire and a surrounding second compression coil extend through the proximal shaft 13 and into separate off-axis lumens (not shown) in the distal shaft. Suitable deflection control handles for use with a catheter having more than one puller wire are described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,123,699, 6,171,277, and 6,183,463, the disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference.

As shown in FIG. 3, a needle electrode assembly 46 is provided. The needle electrode assembly 46 is used to ablate tissue while simultaneously injecting saline or other fluid to conduct the ablation energy, thereby creating a theoretic increase in the effective size of the electrode. The needle electrode assembly 46 is extendable and retractable, and may be moved by manipulation of the needle control handle 17, as described further below. FIG. 3 depicts the needle electrode assembly 46 in an extended position as it would be to ablate tissue. The distal end of the needle electrode assembly 46 may be withdrawn into the infusion lumen 30 to avoid injury, particularly during the time that the catheter is inserted through the vasculature of the body and during the time in which the catheter is removed from the body.

The needle electrode assembly 46 comprises a proximal tubing 33 joined, directly or indirectly, to a generally rigid, electrically-conductive distal tubing 35, as shown in FIG. 3. The generally rigid nature of the distal tubing 35 allows it to pierce tissue in order to increase its effectiveness during ablation. In an exemplary embodiment, the distal tubing 35 is formed of Nitinol or stainless steel, and, as illustrated in FIG. 3, is preferably formed with a beveled edge 36 at the distal tip of the needle electrode assembly 46 to enhance its ability to pierce tissue. The proximal tubing 33 is preferably more flexible than the distal tubing 35 to allow the proximal tubing to bend as necessary with the flexible proximal shaft 13 of the catheter body 12, for instance when the catheter is inserted into the vasculature of the body. The proximal tubing 33 of the needle electrode assembly 46 is preferably made of polyimide or polyether etherketone (PEEK), but can be made of any other suitable biocompatible material, such as plastic or metal.

A needle electrode lead wire 210 is electrically connected at its distal end to the electrically-conductive distal tubing 35 for supplying radio frequency energy or other suitable ablation energy to the distal tubing. The needle electrode lead wire 210 is soldered, welded or otherwise attached to the outside of the distal tubing 35, but could be attached elsewhere to the distal tubing. The proximal end of the needle electrode lead wire 210 is attached to a suitable connector 67, which in turn is connected to a suitable source of ablation energy (not shown).

Additionally, a temperature sensor is provided for measuring the temperature of the tissue being ablated by the needle electrode assembly 46 before, during or after ablation. Any conventional temperature sensor, e.g., a thermocouple or thermistor, may be used. In the depicted embodiment, the temperature sensor comprises a thermocouple 200 formed by an enameled wire pair, as best shown in FIG. 4. One wire of the wire pair is a copper wire 202, e.g., a number 40 copper wire. The other wire of the wire pair is a constantan wire 204. The wires 202 and 204 of the wire pair are electrically isolated from each other except at their distal ends, where they are twisted together, covered with a short piece of plastic tubing 206, e.g., polyimide, and covered with epoxy. The plastic tubing 206 is then glued or otherwise attached to the inside wall of the distal tubing 35 of the needle electrode assembly 46, as best shown in FIG. 3. The proximal ends of the wires 202 and 204 extend out the proximal end of the distal tubing 35 and are attached to an appropriate connector (not shown) connectable to a suitable temperature monitor (not shown). In an alternative embodiment, the copper wire 202 of the thermocouple can also be used as the lead wire for the needle electrode assembly 46

The proximal tubing 33 of the needle electrode assembly 46 extends from the needle control handle 17, through the deflection control handle 16, through the proximal shaft 13, and into the infusion lumen 30 of the distal shaft 14. The proximal end of the distal tubing 35 is spaced slightly from the distal end of the proximal tubing 33 and extends through the infusion lumen 30 of the distal shaft 14. The proximal and distal tubings 33 and 35 are mounted, preferably coaxially, within an outer plastic tube 48. The outer plastic tube 48 can be glued or otherwise attached to the proximal and distal tubings to form a single structure that, as described below, is longitudinally moveable relative to the catheter body 12. The outer plastic tube 48 extends through the catheter body 12 with the proximal tubing and protects the needle electrode lead wire 210 and thermocouple wires 202 and 204, which extend between the proximal tubing 33 and outer plastic tube 48, when the needle electrode assembly 46 is moved relative to the catheter body. The needle electrode lead wire 210 and thermocouple wires 202 and 204 extend out through a hole (not shown) in the outer plastic tube 48 within the deflection control handle 16 and are attached to appropriate connectors, as noted above.

FIG. 3 shows one arrangement for joining the outer plastic tube 48 to the proximal and distal tubings 33 and 35. Specifically, a small piece of plastic tubing 45, for example, polyimide tubing, is placed over the discontinuity between the proximal and distal tubings 33 and 35 and attached to the proximal and distal tubings by polyurethane glue or the like to form a single infusion passage through which saline or other fluid can pass from the proximal tubing to the distal tubing. The small piece of plastic tubing 45 helps to protect the thermocouple wires 202 and 204 and the needle electrode lead wire 210. A small, preferably non-conductive, spacer 43 is mounted between the distal tubing 35 and the distal end of the outer plastic tube 48, and optionally glued in place. The spacer 43 prevents bodily fluid from entering into the distal end of the needle electrode assembly 46,

In an exemplary embodiment, the proximal tubing 33 of the needle electrode assembly 46 has an inner diameter of 0.014 inch and an outer diameter of 0.016 inch. The distal tubing 35 has an inner diameter of 0.014 inch and an outer diameter of 0.018 inch and a length of about 1.0 inch. Further, the distal tubing 35 extends past the distal end of the distal shaft 14 about 14 mm. The small plastic tubing 45 has an inner diameter of 0.022 inch and an outer diameter of 0.024, the outer plastic tube 48 has an inner diameter of 0.025 inch and an outer diameter of 0.035 inch, and the plastic spacer 43 has an inner diameter of 0.017 inch and an outer diameter of 0.024 inch.

Within the catheter body 12, the needle electrode assembly 46, comprising the proximal tubing 33, distal tubing 35, spacer 43, plastic tubing 45 and outer plastic tube 48, is slidably mounted, preferably coaxially, within a protective tube 47 that is stationary relative to the catheter body. The protective tube 47, which is preferably made of polyimide, serves to prevent the needle electrode assembly 46 from buckling during extension and retraction of the needle electrode assembly relative to the catheter body 12. The protective tube 47 additionally serves to provide a fluid-tight seal surrounding the needle electrode assembly 46. Within the deflection control handle 16, the protective tube 47 and needle electrode assembly 46 extend into a protective shaft 66, which is preferably made of polyurethane.

Longitudinal movement of the needle electrode assembly 46 is achieved using the needle control handle 17. The needle electrode assembly 46 and protective tube 47 extend from the deflection control handle 16 to the needle control handle 17 within the protective shaft 66.

As illustrated in FIG. 2, in one embodiment the needle control handle 17 comprises a generally cylindrical outer body 80 having proximal and distal ends, a piston chamber 82 extending a part of the way therethrough, and a needle passage 83 extending a part of the way therethrough. The piston chamber 82 extends from the proximal end of the handle part way into the body 80, but does not extend out the distal end of the body. The needle passage 83, which has a diameter less than that of the piston chamber 82, extends from the distal end of the piston chamber to the distal end of the outer body 80.

A piston 84, having proximal and distal ends, is slidably mounted within the piston chamber 82. A proximal fitting 86 is mounted in and fixedly attached to the proximal end of the piston 84. The proximal fitting 86 includes a tubular distal region 87 that extends distally from the main body of the proximal fitting. The piston 84 has an axial passage 85 through which the proximal tubing 33 of the needle electrode assembly 46 extends, as described in more detail below. A compression spring 88 is mounted within the piston chamber 82 between the distal end of the piston 84 and the outer body 80. The compression spring 88 can either be arranged between the piston 84 and outer body 80, or can have one end in contact with or fixed to the piston, while the other end is in contact with or fixed to the outer body.

The proximal tubing 33, outer plastic tube 48, protective tube 47 and protective shaft 66 extend from the deflection control handle 16 into the distal end of the needle passage 83, as best shown in FIG. 2 FIG. 2A, which depicts Area A of FIG. 2. Within the needle passage 83, the proximal tubing 33, outer plastic tube 48, protective tube 47 and protective shaft 66 extend into a first metal tube 90, which is preferably made of stainless steel. If desired, the first metal tube 90 could instead be made of a rigid plastic material. The first metal tube 90 is secured to the outer body 80 of the needle control handle 17 by a set screw 101 or any other suitable means. The protective shaft 66 terminates at its proximal end within the first metal tube 90.

A second metal tube 91 is provided with its distal end mounted, preferably coaxially, inside the proximal end of the first metal tube 90 and with its distal end abutting the proximal end of the protective shaft 66. The second metal tube 91 is fixed in place relative to the first metal tube 90 by the set screw 101. The second metal tube 91, like the first metal tube 90, could alternatively be made of a rigid plastic material.

The proximal end of the second metal tube 91 is mounted, preferably coaxially, around the distal end of the tubular distal region 87 of the proximal fitting 86, with the second metal tube being longitudinally movable relative to the tubular distal region 87. Accordingly, when the piston 84 is moved distally relative to the outer body 80, the tubular distal region 87 moves distally into the second metal tube 91. As shown in FIG. 2B (which depicts Area B of FIG. 2), the proximal tubing 33 and outer plastic tube 48 extend through the second metal tube 91 and into the tubular distal region 87 of the proximal fitting 86. The outer plastic tube 48 terminates in and is fixedly attached to the proximal fitting 86 to thereby attach the outer plastic tube, and thus the needle electrode assembly 46, to the piston 84. Within the proximal fitting 86, the proximal tubing 33 extends out of the outer plastic tube 48 and into a first protective sheath 31, as shown in FIG. 2C (which depicts Area C of FIG. 2), and is connected to a luer connector 65, which is connected to an irrigation pump, or other suitable fluid infusion source (not shown), as is known in the art. Similarly, the needle electrode lead wire 210 and the thermocouple wires 202 and 204 extend out of the outer plastic tube 48 and into a second protective sheath 29, as also shown in FIG. 2C (depicting Area C of FIG. 2), which is connected to a suitable connector 67, such as a 10-pin electrical connector, for connecting the needle electrode lead wire to a source of ablation energy and the thermocouple wires to a suitable monitoring system.

In use, force is applied to the piston 84 to cause distal movement of the piston relative to the outer body 80, which compresses the compression spring 88. This movement causes the needle electrode assembly 46 to correspondingly move distally relative to the outer body 80, protective shaft 66, protective tube 47, proximal shaft 13, and distal shaft 14 so that the distal tubing 35 of the needle electrode assembly extends outside the distal end of the distal shaft. When the force is removed from the piston 84, the compression spring 88 pushes the piston proximally to its original position, thus causing the distal tubing 35 of the needle electrode assembly 46 to retract back into the distal end of the distal shaft 14. Upon distal movement of the piston 84, the tubular distal region 87 of the proximal fitting 86 moves distally into the second metal tube 91 to prevent the proximal tubing 33 and the outer plastic tube 48 of the needle electrode assembly 46 from buckling within the axial passage 85.

The piston 84 further comprises a longitudinal slot 100 extending along a portion of its outer edge. A securing means 102, such as a set screw, pin, or other locking mechanism, extends through the outer body 80 and into the longitudinal slot 100. This design limits the distance that the piston 84 can be slid proximally out of the piston chamber 82. When the needle electrode assembly 46 is in the retracted position, preferably the securing means 102 is at or near the distal end of the longitudinal slot 100.

The proximal end of the piston 84 has a threaded outer surface 104. A circular thumb control 106 is rotatably mounted on the proximal end of the piston 84. The thumb control 106 has a threaded inner surface 108 that interacts with the threaded outer surface 104 of the piston. The thumb control 106 acts as a stop, limiting the distance that the piston 84 can be pushed into the piston chamber 82, and thus the distance that the needle electrode assembly 46 can be extended out of the distal end of the catheter. The threaded surfaces of the thumb control 106 and piston 84 allow the thumb control to be moved closer or farther from the proximal end of the outer body 80 so that the extension distance of the needle electrode assembly 46 can be controlled by the physician. A securing means, such as a tension screw 110 is provided in the thumb control 106 to control the tension between the thumb control and piston 84. As would be recognized by one skilled in the art, the thumb control 106 can be replaced by any other mechanism that can act as a stop for limiting the distance that the piston 84 extends into the piston chamber 82, and it is not necessary, although it is preferred, that the stop be adjustable relative to the piston.

As noted above, the mapping assembly 15 is mounted on the distal end of the distal shaft 14. With reference to FIGS. 3 and 8, the mapping assembly 15 comprises two or more flexible spines 118. Each spine 118 has a proximal end attached to the distal end of the catheter body 12 and a free distal end, i.e., the distal end is not attached to any of the other spines, to the catheter body, or to any other structure that confines movement of the distal end of that spine. As will be recognized by one skilled in the art, the number of spines 118 can vary as desired depending on the particular application, so that the mapping assembly 15 has at least two spines, preferably at least three spines, more preferably at least five spines and as many as eight or more spines. The spines 118 are moveable between an expanded arrangement, wherein, for example, each spine arcs outward from the distal end of the catheter body 12, as shown in FIG. 8, and a collapsed arrangement (not shown), wherein, for example, each spine is disposed generally along a longitudinal axis of the catheter body so that the spines are capable of fitting within a lumen of a guiding sheath. As described in more detail below, each spine 118 carries at least one electrode, preferably a ring electrode, such that when the spines are positioned in contact with heart tissue, each spine is capable of obtaining electrical and mechanical data.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 8, the mapping assembly 15 includes five spines 118, and each spine has a pre-formed configuration in which the spine arcs outwardly from the catheter body 12. However, other spine shapes and configurations are contemplated within the invention. With reference to FIG. 3, each spine 118 comprises a support arm 124 and a non-conductive covering 134 in surrounding relation to the support arm 124. The support arm 124 comprises a metal or plastic material that has shape memory, such that the support arm forms an initial shape (i.e., part of the expanded configuration) when no external forces are applied, forms a deflected shape (e.g., part of the collapsed configuration) when external force is applied, and returns to its initial shape when the external force is released. In one embodiment, each support arm 124 comprises a superelastic material, for example, a nickel-titanium alloy such as nitinol. In a preferred embodiment, the non-conductive covering 134 comprises a biocompatible plastic tubing, such as polyurethane or polyimide tubing. The non-conductive covering 134 may be glued to the support arm 132 or attached indirectly by being glued to the distal end of the distal tubing 35. The non-conductive covering 134 may be attached to the support arm 124 by any other suitable method.

As noted above, each spine 118 carries at least one electrode mounted along its length. In the depicted embodiment, four ring electrodes 125 are mounted on the non-conductive covering 134 of each spine 118, but fewer or additional ring electrodes may be used as desired. Each ring electrode 125 has a length preferably up to about 2 mm, more preferably from about 0.5 mm to about 1 mm. Preferably the ring electrodes 125 are generally evenly-spaced along the length of each spine 118.

Each ring electrode 125 is electrically connected to an electrode lead wire 129, which in turn is electrically connected to a connector (not shown), which can be incorporated into the deflection control handle 16 or provided outside of the catheter. The connector is connected to an appropriate mapping or monitoring system (not shown). Each electrode lead wire 129 extends from the connector, through the deflection control handle 16, through the central lumen 18 in the proximal shaft 13 of the catheter body 12, through the lead wire lumen 34 of the distal shaft 14, and into the non-conductive covering 134 of one of the spines 118, where it is attached to its corresponding ring electrode 125. Within the proximal shaft 13 and deflection control handle 16, the lead wires 129 extend through a protective tube 70, which can be eliminated if desired.

Each lead wire 129, which includes a non-conductive coating over almost all of its length, is attached to its corresponding ring electrode 125 by any suitable method. An exemplary method for attaching a lead wire 129 to a ring electrode 125 involves first making a small hole through an outer wall of the non-conductive covering 134. Such a hole can be created, for example, by inserting a needle through the non-conductive covering 134 and heating the needle sufficiently to form a permanent hole. The lead wire 129 is then drawn through the hole by using a microhook or the like. The end of the lead wire 129 is then stripped of any coating and welded to the underside of the ring electrode 125, which is then slid into position over the hole and fixed in place with polyurethane glue or the like. Alternatively, each ring electrode 125 may be formed by wrapping the lead wire 129 around the non-conductive covering 134 a number of times and stripping the lead wire of its own non-conductive coating on its outwardly facing surfaces. In such an instance, the lead wire 129 functions as a ring electrode.

In the depicted embodiment, two of the spines 118 each carry a marker band 130 to help the user identify the orientation of the mapping assembly 15 under fluoroscopy. Each marker band 130 comprises a metal ring (e.g., a ring electrode not attached to a lead wire) of sufficient radiopacity. The marker bands 130 may be placed along any part of the spine 118, as long as they are not in contact with any of the ring electrodes 125. Preferably, a first marker band 130 a is placed on a first spine 118 a between the most proximal ring electrode 125 a and the distal shaft 14, and a second marker band 130 b is placed on a second spine 118 b between the most proximal ring electrode 125 a and the second most proximal ring electrode 125 b.

In the depicted embodiment, the spines 118 of the mapping assembly 15 are supported and given their desired shape by a support structure 120 comprising a base 122 and plurality of support arms 124 extending from the base, as best shown in FIG. 9. The base 122 of the support structure 120 is generally cylindrically shaped for mounting over the distal end of the tubing 19 of the distal shaft 14. The support arms 124 each have a proximal end attached to the base 122 and a free distal end, as described above. The number of support arms 124 on the support structure corresponds to the desired number of spines 118 on the mapping assembly, and in the depicted embodiment is five. The support structure 120 of the invention permits the support arms 124 to be more accurately positioned relative to one another in a desired arrangement. Preferably the support arms 124 are evenly spaced about the perimeter of the base 122.

In a preferred embodiment, the support structure 120 is manufactured from a single metal tube, and thus has a unitary structure. In a particularly preferred embodiment, the support structure 120 is manufactured from a nickel-titanium alloy, for instance, Nitinol. Preferably, the base is a right circular cylinder and has a diameter slightly larger than the distal end of the distal shaft 14.

In the depicted embodiment, each support arm 124 is tapered slightly from its proximal end to its distal end, which allows for greater distal flexibility while maintaining the desired curvature at the proximal end. Each support arm 124 also includes a disc-shaped tip 127, which provides more surface area for the distal end of the support arm 124 to be glued to its corresponding non-conductive covering 134.

During assembly, the base 122 of the support structure 120 is mounted over the distal end of the tubing 19 of the distal shaft 14. Non-conductive coverings 134 are introduced over the support arms 124 to form the spines 118 of the mapping assembly 15. After the ring electrodes 125 are mounted on the spines 118 as described above and the other desired components are assembled within the catheter, a piece of tubular plastic 208 is mounted over the base 122 of the support structure 120 and optionally glued in place. The piece of tubular plastic 208 also covers the proximal ends of the non-conductive coverings 134.

In the depicted embodiment, as shown in FIG. 3, the catheter further includes at least one location sensor 140. The location sensor 140 is used to determine the coordinates of the mapping assembly 15 at each instant when the mapping assembly 15 is being used to collect one or more electrical mapping data points. As a result, both electrical and locational data can be obtained for each data point that is mapped. In the depicted embodiment, a single location sensor 140 is mounted in the distal end of the distal shaft 14 within the cylindrical base 122 of the support structure 120. Alternatively, the catheter can include multiple location sensors 140, one mounted within each spine 118 of the mapping assembly 15, as described in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/040,932, entitled “Catheter Having Multiple Spines Each Having Electrical, Mapping and Location Sensing Capabilities,” the entire disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.

The location sensor 140 is connected to a corresponding sensor cable 74. The sensor cable 74 extends, along with the lead wires 129, through the lead wire lumen 34 of the distal shaft 14, and through the proximal shaft 13 within the protective tube 70 and then into the deflection control handle 16 and out of the proximal end of the deflection control handle within an umbilical cord (not shown) to a sensor control module (not shown) that houses a circuit board (not shown). Alternatively, the circuit board can be housed within the control handle 16, for example, as described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,024,739, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference. The sensor cable 74 comprises multiple wires encased within a plastic covered sheath. In the sensor control module, the wires of the sensor cable 74 are connected to the circuit board. The circuit board amplifies the signal received from the location sensor 140 and transmits it to a computer in a form understandable by the computer by means of a sensor connector at the proximal end of the sensor control module. Also, because the catheter is designed for single use only, the circuit board preferably contains an EPROM chip that shuts down the circuit board approximately twenty-four hours after the catheter has been used. This prevents the catheter, or at least the location sensor 140, from being used twice.

Preferably the location sensor 140 is an electromagnetic location sensor. For example, the location sensor 140 may comprise a magnetic-field-responsive coil, as described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,391,199, or a plurality of such coils, as described in International Publication WO 96/05758. The plurality of coils enables the six-dimensional coordinates (i.e. the three positional and the three orientational coordinates) of the location sensor 140 to be determined. Alternatively, any suitable location sensor known in the art may be used, such as electrical, magnetic or acoustic sensors. Suitable location sensors for use with the present invention are also described, for example, in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,558,091, 5,443,489, 5,480,422, 5,546,951, and 5,568,809, International Publication Nos. WO 95/02995, WO 97/24983, and WO 98/29033, and U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/882,125 filed Jun. 15, 2001, entitled “Position Sensor Having Core with High Permeability Material,” the disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference.

Using this technology, the physician can visually map a heart chamber. This mapping is done by advancing the distal shaft 14 into a heart chamber until contact is made with the heart wall. This position is recorded and saved. The distal shaft 14 is then moved to another position in contact with the heart wall and again the position is recorded and saved.

The location sensor 140 can be used alone or more preferably in combination with the ring electrodes 125. By combining the location sensor 140 and electrodes 125, a physician can simultaneously map the contours or shape of the heart chamber, the electrical activity of the heart, and the extent of displacement of the catheter and hence identify the presence and location of the ischemic tissue. Specifically, the location sensor 125 is used to monitor the precise location of the distal end of the catheter in the heart and the extent of catheter displacement. The ring electrodes 125 are used to monitor the strength of the electrical signals at that location.

The preceding description has been presented with reference to presently preferred embodiments of the invention. Workers skilled in the art and technology to which this invention pertains will appreciate that alterations and changes in the described structure may be practiced without meaningful departing from the principal, spirit and scope of this invention.

Accordingly, the foregoing description should not be read as pertaining only to the precise structures described and illustrated in the accompanying drawings, but rather should be read consistent with and as support to the following claims which are to have their fullest and fair scope.

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US850658931 Oct 200713 Aug 2013James D. MaloneyNasogastric tube for use during an ablation procedure
US852944321 Oct 201010 Sep 2013James D. MaloneyNasogastric tube for use during an ablation procedure
US861715519 Jul 201131 Dec 2013Covidien LpSystem and method for determining proximity relative to a critical structure
US862300410 Mar 20107 Jan 2014Covidien LpMethod for determining proximity relative to a critical structure
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Owner name: BIOSENSE WEBSTER, INC., CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:SOLIS, MARIO A.;BAUTISTA, RICHARD;OCARIZ, ROBERT F.;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:015960/0329;SIGNING DATES FROM 20040603 TO 20041019